WARRNAMBOOL’S most debated housing site snuck into the spotlight again this month when the city council overturned a previous refusal of a canopy extension for a two-storey house under construction.
It is the final chapter in a long saga for 94 Merri Street, where a derelict 1840s house was demolished two years ago after a decade of emotional arguments on whether it should be saved for heritage value as probably the city’s oldest building.
Two units were constructed at the rear of the block before owner Terry Board won city council approval in April for a planning permit to build a house at the front of the site.
However, a section of his plans referring to a canopy around the top of a 9.9 metre-tall lift shaft were refused because it was considered out of keeping with the general 7.5m height limits for new buildings on Merri Street.
Mr Board later decided to have another crack at getting permission for the canopy and his application was considered by councillors on October 21 with a note that no objections had been received from neighbours.
City growth director Bill Millard said the planning department’s assessment had not changed — the canopy would add unnecessary bulk to the design and should not be approved.
Cr Jacinta Ermacora said she supported the first application “with great discomfort” by agreeing to stop the canopy.
“This should have gone to VCAT rather than coming to us in a second application,” she said.
“Multi-storey buildings on Merri Street will produce a barrier between the rest of the city and the ocean.”
Mayor Michael Neoh said the application was only marginally different to the original proposal which did not get his approval.
However, councillors Brian Kelson, Kylie Gaston, Rob Askew and Peter Sycopoulis said they had visited the site and met the applicant who explained the proposal.
They all said it should be allowed.
The application was approved 4-2 after Cr Peter Hulin declared an interest and left the chamber.
Construction of the house is expected to be completed by Christmas.